How Not to Run A Giveaway

Blogging is easy. Running a blog as a business is not. You see blogs are as diverse as people in the world with our various creeds, cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, colors, you name it a blog exists for or about the topic. More so is the rising cut throat popularity and business of giveaway blogs. Some years ago I wrote about the “not so” up and up practices of a giveaway blog; bloggers sweeping for traffic and never living up to providing a fruitful giveaway. Seems more are capitalizing in this fashion but with the added factor of collusion plus a ponzi scheme. Worth repeating I might share how NOT to run a giveaway.

Nowadays big brother is involved on a deeper level than the role Linda Lovelace ever played in American pornography. Every post has a disclaimer, every page has a disclaimer, every product, link, back link; a perpetual circle jerk of monkey’s appeasing an ever tiresome topic driven by fear. However, the fear should be real in the event one individual decided to pony up with legal representation and assert action. Maybe we should go over the basics, I might save you a trip to the Library of Congress to seek out the information I have so readily at hand.

1. Your Giveaway is technically a “Contest”

The true definition of a “giveaway” is if you just enter and by some asinine, random luck the blog owner picks you. Congratulations. Contests on the other hand require some panache, finesse, albeit skill to enter. Post a comment, follow me on Twitter, sit and spin. You know the drill. Even though the jargon is used interchangeably, if someone would like to get specific (especially when the law is concerned) you might want to understand the differences. If you were truly running a “giveaway” you need to provide an alternative form of entry such as “provide a self addressed stamped envelope to 123 Mickey Mouse Lane, Bagdad, AZ 85009” of which you now have your entrant with their information so you may contact them if they are chosen as well. This get’s sticky, can you feel it?

2. Make sure your contest is visible to all parties

The beauty of the age of information, technology and having a husband who is an IT (Information technology) guru, you cannot hide from anything in this world. Everything is on the web and everything has a history. Google me for instance. You can find my name, address, phone number, travel ten pages deep before you hit the obscurity of darkness that drowns out the name Karie Herring. Terrifying actually. I digress. Anyhow, when running a contest, you need to ensure that if you are the host and you will be pimping out the link like a whore (yes because you are receiving payment from others who are assisting in the promotion), the least you could do is:

  • A) Ensure a permalink on your blog for said giveaway. This is most excellent for SEO if you give a damn.
  • B) Ensure you post for original content to be indexed by Google and other robots and search engines. You want to be recognized as legit….get your content out there, even if you are prostituting services.

sham TRUS giveawayTake this photo for example. The blog labeled Blog A is the blog that posted the HTML as part of a legitimate service to share the contest at large. The blog labeled Blog F for “failure,” “fluff,” “flob,” I think you get the picture. This bollix of a blogger failed to even post this giveaway. Anywhere on her blog.They are HOSTING  the giveaway as indicated in Blog A’s screen shot. Wouldn’t one think that they would have a permalink post for this giveaway they are hosting? Or the other hosts for that matter….where are their posts? I stalked the post of the host in question. Her blog. Google cache. Nothing. Nada. No where in the nether webs was this posted. But she’s hosting? How do you indicate an official capacity without having official capacity…I’m confused. Maybe someone can clear that up.

Let’s move on shall we.

3. Pull a Winner. A legitimate winner

The beauty of a contest is that the winner is based on luck of the draw, pun intended. No mathematical equations, statistics, algorithms or minutiae of the sorts is involved. Just plain old lady luck. With that being said, however, some fail to realize that everyone has to have an opportunity to enter and they have to have the same chance to win. In the event that a winner is already predetermined by the blog owner this is in direct violation of the 1995 Crime Bill passed by President Clinton and subject to sanctions of two years in a Federal prison plus any hefty fines as deemed fit by a court of your peers. If you suspect someone of this fraudulent activity, reach out to the FTC to file a complaint.

If you pull a winner, do not post right away. Not everyone responds within the time frame which, in turn, defaults to choosing another winner. Be honest and solid on your times. If you pull a winner at 11pm, and they are provided 48 hours, give them the 48 hours and a few minutes. Tweet it out there, email to them, Facebook, make this notice public, not just on the widget yet because the widget would indicate finality. Think of the post on the widget and your blog as you have notified family members of a death before releasing to the media. Make sense? Once you have made contact then make it final on the widget. Done.

Finally, stick by your word. Your word is your bond. If you claim to be a professional act like one or subject yourself to a lashing greater than any troll or sweeper. Federal sanctions, state sanctions, imprisonment, fines, oh my. Playing with the big leagues can bring big league regulations. When in doubt, PUNT, tell the truth. Contestants, bloggers, brands and people alike will respect you if you have a legitimate giveaway and provide legitimate winners. How you run your giveaway is a clear indication of how you run your business. How not to run a giveaway, well that is a clear indication that you are a fraud and acting in a manner to deceive others, so ladies, enjoy your bedfellows of Bernie Madoff, Lou Perlman and the like.

 

The above was written by Karie, but I want to add (Joie) that when a sweeper or someone questions me about the validity of an entry or giveaway winner I take it seriously.  I was asked by a sweeper about this giveaway here that was hosted by Deb Picard at All About Parents because when googled NOTHING comes up with this name and spelled this way.  In our day and age this doesn’t happen.  What also brought attention to this is that it states that this giveaway winner was personally selected on the Giveaway Tools Widget.

 

Screen Shot of Giveaway Tools Hosted By All About Parents Note the widgets states a number of these winners were personally selected.
Screen Shot of Giveaway Tools Hosted By All About Parents Note the widgets states a number of these winners were personally selected.

I wanted to give this blogger the benefit of the doubt and here are the emails I exchanged with her.

 

On 1/24/2015 6:27 PM, All About Parents wrote:

Wow… I just noticed this. I ALWAYS have the tool draw randomly for me. This is odd and I am going to email giveaway tools myself about this. I will keep you updated on what I find out. I have never selected the winners myself. I am wondering what this about myself now.

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On Jan 24, 2015 6:29 PM, “Winter Witch” <winterwitch@networkingwitches.com> wrote:

Hi Deb,

Thanks so much for checking on this some of the sweepers are mad and I can understand that because bloggers have been accused of cheating in the past.  I am in NO WAY saying you’re cheating, but I wanted to check because this is one of the giveaways they’re squawking about and I want to give them an answer.

Thank you again,
Joie

Below is Deb’s Answer to me:

Well, thats bull. I have never once chosen my own winner. It really upsets me that people are “squaking” about my giveaway and haven’t one come to me about it. I have been sponsoring my own giveaways for the last few months and I was already thinking about not doing it any more after the current giveaway that is running. Its a shame that others have to point the finger. I just got done emailing giveaway tools. But for sure now I’m not sponsoring any more giveaways and I’m just gonna stay to myself just as I have always done with out any problems. Thank you for coming to me with this. I will keep you posted on what happens when they email me back.

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I emailed Deb from All About Parents again on 1/26/15 to follow up on this and she hasn’t replied:

Hi Deb,

I’m following up to see if you found out anything on this.  The winner is now not on the widget and I want to get back with the sweepers.  There are other giveaways too that have the same problem that I worked on with you.

Here are 3 giveaways I worked on with you and none of the winners are posted.  Unfortunately the FTC states that we as bloggers must post the winners publicly.  I usually post winners on my site of all giveaways including group giveaways.  I go back and check the widgets and many times I email when there is no winner posted.

If I could get the winners and the source of how they won I would appreciate it so I can share the information with my readers.

http://networkingwitches.com/2014/10/110614-bobee-whale-wall-decal-giveaway/
http://networkingwitches.com/2014/09/100814-all-about-parents-bday-extravaganza-toys-r-us-140-gc-sweepstakes/
http://networkingwitches.com/2014/11/121414-all-about-parents-giveaway/

All the best,
Joie

When I wrote the above not there were NO winners on the widgets and now the original widget in questions reads like this:

allaboutparents12815

There are so many good and honest bloggers out there and it only takes one to give us all a bad name.  There are rules and laws to protect us all and something isn’t just isn’t right.

Joie

12 Replies to “How Not to Run A Giveaway”

  1. ” It really upsets me that people are “squaking” about my giveaway and haven’t one come to me about it” I want to tell you this is entirely UNTRUE. I posted https://www.facebook.com/Allaboutparents/photos/a.805227142841984.1073741827.802720593092639/879561402075224/?type=1&theater and asked about the winner drawn and my comments were deleted. I offered to take it to private FB messages to not embarass her and did so. I could include the entire mess of PMs but it pretty much boils down to evasion.
    I am disappointed when people do this. I play fair, only using one ID when knowing for a fact some use multiples. I expect bloggers to play fair too- by drawing legitimate winners not someone out of the air to avoid sending out a prize.
    In PMs I was accused of just being mad for not winning……… so far from the truth. I enter a lot of contests, I win few (I think because I dont have a bevy of fake names) but have been around blogs since 2009. I try and keep the faith that bloggers are ethical and some I have followed for many many years.
    When you run into something like this, it makes you wonder about those who also ‘co hosted’ and really makes the whole mess look bad. I went to a trusted blogger, one I knew I knew who blogged and always has blogged with integrity, and she is the one who confronted this person and there is still no definite answer if this was truly legit.
    I understand the word of blogging is about numbers, but really this group is getting numbers (followers) in a very crappy way. If you don’t think savvy ‘sweepers’ won’t check you are dead wrong(shudder bloggers but YOU DEPEND ON US AND WE DO YOUR ADVERTISING BY TWEETING AND POSTING YOUR SITE AND CONTEST) If you think the newbies who follow and unfollow you will build your blog you are also wrong. If you are ethical , you get true readers and followers who have a large social reach- and you get lots of advertising when we only have a ‘chance’ of ‘winning’ some of will retweet or tweet your things when we arent even entering.
    So please, do yourself a favor- play by the rules and you will succeed.
    And, the reason why some other sweepers might not have contacted you directly? Its simple, they think they will be blackballed by you or your cohosts. In my case, frankly my dear I dont give a damn. I dont want to promote someone who has obviously broken the rules to gain followers. There are millions of legitimate and honest bloggers out there.

    1. Ellen, you hit the nail on the head we are a community. You cannot spell together alone. Two by two we all work together, hand in hand. I’m disappointed at the lack of integrity and overall involvement on many parties. Maybe a call to the FTC might wake someone up. I am no stranger to the DOJ and partnering with them, maybe the states attorney would be interested in the racketeering and scheming as well.

      1. There is another sad aspect of this…. as I mentioned people are afraid of being blackballed and not winning… this post was spread aroud in ‘sweeper’ groups and you see how many commented here when there were almost 125,000 entries on that particular contest. I am rather saddened so many will perhaps come and read but not comment. At least they are aware though, and thats the important thing. They also know that there are bloggers who will post about this and thats important too.

  2. Really? You had to reference Linda Lovelace, a woman who was seriously, seriously, seriously abused and sexually trafficked for a fluff piece about giveaways? Have you researched her life? It was no joke.

      1. Out of this whole thing Jayne only ‘got’ Linda Lovelace? Fluff piece? Wow, I guess the FTC isn’t impressive nor is law enforcement.
        I can’t even imagine what search words were put in to find this post…..

  3. This was a good reminder for me to go publish the names of my last few winners! I always Tweet it out if I have their Twitter handle (barring them asking me not to – weird, but has happened a few times in my years of running events) – but sometimes I forget to go back to my GT and publish the winner! Feeling good that they are current!

  4. I appreciated this post. I too was unaware as a bloggers that I needed to publish my winner’s names (I always have them displayed on the widget but I made myself a note to go back and make the changes to each of my giveaways to add the name in bold outside of the widget. I have read the FTC guidelines but it is a bit overwhelming and full of legalese and in the I missed about posting them publicly.

    I am an honest blogger (Sarah at CouponSavvySarah.com) and my reputation is everything to me in that regard. I always use RC to randomly select my winner and it makes me feel awesome to be able to email my winners that they have won and how excited they are when they reply back to me. I always give them 48 hrs to reply back (and sometimes a little more depending on weekends/holidays/etc) and if I don’t hear back after 24 hrs – I usually email again or FB them etc because I would hate for someone to miss out on a prize because they didn’t check their email.

    Thank you for sharing this about the FTC guidelines – I think I will be taking the time to go back through them this weekend just to review and make sure I am not missing any other details.

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